You are on page 1of 8

Should Wizard Hit Mommy – John Updike

Children have to respect their parents and at the most obey them and admire them but there are
chances when parents take wrong decisions and children happen to question them.
Category: English Core
 General Details
 Answers
 Comments
Jack was the father of two little kids – Jo and Bobby. His wife Clare was carrying their third child.
When it came to telling Jo a bedtime story, you could always see Jack in the bed with the little girl of
four telling stories.
But the problem was, Jack’s stories were the ditto copies of his one and only story – story of Roger,
a creature that suffered loneliness in a forest because it suffered from certain disabilities. Every new
story that Jack told Jo was a variation of the base story and mostly the difference in the story was
Roger’s being a cat, chipmunk, mouse, fish, etc. and the deformity or illness it suffered. Today Roger
could be a fish, tomorrow a rat and another day a monkey.
For your better understanding, here is Roger’s story. Roger was a disabled creature – disability such
as blindness, lameness, deafness, etc. Jack was good at recalling the varied kinds of disabilities and
species of animals.
Well, because Roger was disabled, he could not play with his friends and he was left alone. Seeing
him cry, a wise owl advises him to meet a wizard who lived in the neighborhood for a little magical
help. There he goes to the wizard, evokes pity in the old wizard’s mind and gets rid of his ailment by
paying a few pennies. On his return, Roger is accepted by his friends and soon he becomes a
sweetheart for all.
You may later wonder why Jack didn’t allow his wife Clare tell stories! Well, Jack told Jo this story –
the story of Roger, a habit that the father and daughter had developed when she was two years.
As I said, everyday it was the same story that jack told Jo – with two changes: one, Roger monkey
changes into Roger cat or Roger chipmunk or Roger skunk; two, Roger suffers from a different
illness/disability. The rest almost remain the same.
Though the story was a little monotonous, Jo compromised with her father for his amazing narrative
skills. One Saturday, Jack told another Roger episode – a new animal, skunk and the disability
associated with Roger, he smelled very, very, bad. This new twist in the story really thrilled Jo and
Jack loved that.
This disability was unbearable for little Roger yet he had to accept it because by nature, all the
skunks smell bad. When a skunk is attacked by its enemies, it can emit a foul smell – similar to
farting – to scatter the enemies away.
A bad smell keeps your enemies and friends away and there is no getting rid of it. As usual Roger
suffered indignity, alienation, disapproval, withdrawal so he was advised by the wise owl to meet the
wizard. Roger went to the wizard, the wizard was willing to give him a good smell in the place of his
natural foul smell – the smell of roses! Roger was thrilled. Smelling like the sweetest of roses, Roger
tanked the wizard and ran to his friends. His friends loved Roger for his smell. After playing with his
happy friends, Roger ran home to break the good news to his mom and dad.
Jo could not think of another Roger Story that ended better than this so she was happy and was
getting ready to sleep but what happened next was really fouler than the foul smell! Seeing Jo had
concluded the story or Jo had thought the story was over, or seeing a little child taking her freedom
for granted, Jack retorted violently. He didn’t like the little child’s not waiting for her father to say, “Jo,
that is the end of the story, now you sleep.”
You may ask, what a father! How weird! What is wrong with the child’s taking it for granted? What is
better than the fact she slept happily? Yes, Jack is weird and unfit. In order to establish a father’s
commanding power in the family, and to remind the child that children have to listen to parents, he
told her, “Jo, the story was not over!” and instantly Jo got a start and she awoke from a sound sleep.
So the story took a new digression – a deviation that Jack deliberately brought in. He said, “Roger’s
mother didn’t like this new smell, however sweet it was.” “Why,” asked Joe. “What is wrong with
that?” Jack explained why it was not acceptable to Roger’s mother. “So she took Roger with rose
smell and went in search of the wizard. When the wizard opened door, she hit him with her umbrella
and explained how the wizard’s magic infuriated/angered her.” The wizard spelled another magic
and Roger smelled as foul as he did earlier. Glad, Roger’s mother took him back home. “And Joe,
the story ends here,” said Jack.
Jack ended his story with Roger skunk’s mother hitting the wizard for giving a new smell to her son.
In fact Joe had loved the previous ending of the story where Roger became a happy creature with
the smell of roses that the wizard gave him. She was displeased with this new ending and wanted
her father to make the wizard hit Roger’s mommy. But Jack was not ready to make any change as
he thought Joe should accept him without questioning. As Jack had created Roger after himself and
Roger’s mother after his own mother, he wanted the story remain a reminder to his daughter to
understand the importance of yielding to her parents.
Short Questions and Answers

1. Why did Jack bring in an addition to the story that had in fact ended?
Jack was a very peculiar father and man. He wanted women clinging to him rather than he
yielding to them. When his story really ended as usual, Joe, his daughter began to show signs of
it and looked distracted. He didn’t like this behavior of his daughter. According to him it was he
who had to declare that the story was over. To establish his authority over the story, over his
daughter and over all women, Jack took the story to a much unexpected twist and declared that
the story was over.
2. How does Jack justify Roger’s mother? Why does he do so?
Interestingly, in all stories of Roger, Jack had infused his own childhood and placed himself as
Roger and his mother as Roger’s mother. Jack did it because he was very much attached to his
mother and had idealized the mother above all. He had certain limitations in his childhood but
his mother didn’t blame him for his good or bad. She didn’t want her son change like the other
boys of his age. What she wanted was a son who always remained her pet, obedient,
unquestioning his parents. Jack wanted his children to be like he was to his mother.
3. Jack appears to be an immature father. Discuss.
Jack is the father of two children yet he exhibits traits of an immature man and father. His mind
is not as grown up as it is expected from a man of his age. He clung to rigid opinions like a small
child. He felt angry with Joe when she took liberty to feel that the story had ended. In order to
establish his authority over the story and the child, Jack added an unwanted tail to the story.
When the daughter commented that the story ended badly, he fights with her over such a trifle,
still behaving like a child.
4. How did Roger’s mother react to his son’s change of smell?
Roger had a very bad smell. He was very sad and disappointed about it. But his life changed
after getting the smell of roses from a wizard. Though his friends loved Roger with the new
smell, his mother expressed her vehement protest to it. She didn’t like the change. She loved
her son with the hereditary smell, however bad it was.
5. Why was Roger’s mother unhappy about the end of the story?
Roger and his friends were greatly happy with the smell of roses Roger got from the wizard, but
his mother wasn’t. The mother loved her son with the bad smell because the bad smell was her
son’s identity. She wanted him to be an obedient child, loving his tradition, proud of the family
smell, however stinking it was.
6. Why does Joe consider Roger’s mother stupid?
Joe considered Roger’s mother stupid because she was so senseless that she could not
appreciate her son’s acquiring a new smell replacing a very unpleasant smell. She was
moreover ignorant about what was good and what was bad. For her, traditions are more
important than a pleasing appearance and therefore she was ever willing to carry her ugly smell
as a mark of her identity.
7. Why was Joe against the end of the story?
Joe was a little girl of four years. She had a good appreciation to her father’s stories, however
monotonous they were. She used to fall asleep at the end of each story her father told her. But
the unusual ending of Roger skunk’s story didn’t please her. She disliked the idea of the good
wizard hit for helping Roger. She saw no reason why goodness be punished. She was angry
with Roger’s mother who didn’t accept a change that happened for good.
8. What was the ugly middle position that Jack found himself in?
Jack was a husband and father. He had considered himself to be very obedient to his mother
and was proud of that submission. He wanted his children follow his example and therefore
hated being contradicted or questioned by his children. It was with this in mind that he chose to
tell bedtime stories to his children rather than leaving it to Clare, his wife. But Jack was a failure
as a story teller, a husband and a father and this placed him in a middle position, somewhere
9. What hadn’t Joe foreseen in the story of Roger Skunk?
Joe was glad with the usual ending of the story of Roger skunk, however repeated the story
was. She had heard this same line of story a hundred times before and was satisfied with each
ending. But Joe was not happy with the additional ending of Roger’s story. She had never
foreseen that there was something wrong with getting pleasant smell and that the wizard would
be punished for helping Roger to possess the smell of roses.
10. 10. Was Jack a success as a story teller? Explain.
1. No, Jack was very poor at telling bedtime stories. First of all, he never told stories out of
his head as was demanded by Joe. He modified a base story every day and therefore his
stories lacked curiosity. He doesn’t quite know the

What is bullying ?
What are the effects of bullying ?
Bullying can have an effect on learning
Bullying can lead to more serious concerns
Why do some kids bully ?
How common is bullying ?

What is bullying?
Many teens have a good idea of what bullying is because they see it every day! Bullying happens when
someone hurts or scares another person on purpose and the person being bullied has a hard time defending
themselves. So, everyone needs to get involved to help stop it.

Have you ever been bullied? Have you bullied anyone else? Bullying is wrong! It is behaviour that makes the
person being bullied feel afraid or uncomfortable. There are many ways that young people bully each other,
even if they don't realize it at the time. Some of these include:

 Punching, shoving and other acts that hurt people physically

 Spreading bad rumours about people

 Keeping certain people out of a group

 Teasing people in a mean way

 Getting certain people to "gang up" on others

The four most common types of bullying are:

Verbal bullying -- name-calling, sarcasm, teasing, spreading rumours, threatening, making negative
references to one's culture, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, unwanted sexual

Social Bullying - mobbing, scapegoating, excluding others from a group, humiliating others with public
gestures or graffiti intended to put others down.

Physical Bullying - hitting, poking, pinching, chasing, shoving, coercing, destroying or stealing belongings,
unwanted sexual touching.

Cyber Bullying (link to cyber bullying) - using the Internet or text messaging to intimidate, put-down,
spread rumours or make fun of someone.


What are the effects of bullying?

Some people think bullying is just part of growing up and a way for young people to learn to stick up for
themselves. But bullying makes people upset. It can make you feel lonely, unhappy and frightened. It can
make you feel unsafe and think there must be something wrong with you. You lose confidence and may not
want to go to school anymore. It may even make you sick.

Bullying can have long-term physical and psychological consequences. Some of these include:

Withdrawal from family and school activities, wanting to be left alone.

 Shyness

 Stomachaches

 Headaches

 Panic Attacks

 Not being able to sleep

 Sleeping too much

 Being exhausted

 Nightmares

If bullying isn't stopped, it also hurts the bystanders, as well as the person who bullies others. Bystanders
are afraid they could be the next victim so even if they feel badly for the person being bullied, they avoid
getting involved in order to protect themselves.

Teens who learn they can get away with violence and aggression continue to do so in adulthood. They have
a higher chance of getting involved in dating aggression, sexual harassment and criminal behaviour later in
William Douglas, one of the most popular and powerful American Supreme Court Chief Justices in
the history, had an enemy since the childhood. He tried to defeat this enemy in all possible ways.
First he tried to overcome this enemy all by himself and later with the help of a trainer. Though he
took years to defeat the enemy, finally Douglas killed his enemy. He was not arrested or sentenced
for this murder, not because he himself was the chief justice, but because his murdered enemy was
his fear of water!

 William Douglas had great passion for water.

 He longed to learn swimming.
 When he was three or four years, he was taken to a Beach in California by his father.
 While surfing on the shore, a huge wave knocked him. He feared water. That was his childhood
 After some years he longed to swim in the Yakima River but his mother warned against that
idea. the yakima river is treacherous.
 Then he found the YMCA Pool the safest place for swimming. Its deepest end was six feet
deep, the bottom was tiled, the drop towards the deep part was gradual, water was clean and
there were other children swimming.
 He went to the pool and started swimming by imitating other boys.
 One day, while waiting for the other boys to come, a big boy threw him into the deepest end of
the water.
 Douglas had the courage to face the situation. He went down and down with a hope to reach the
bottom to make a big leap upward.
 Three times he went down and on the third time, he lost consciousness and almost died!
 Douglas gives a vivid description of death which is peaceful.
 Douglas’ ‘body’ floated on the surface. Someone dragged him out of the water and provided first
 After this incident, Douglas tried to avoid water and water sports as much as possible.
 When he grew up, water began to tempt him again.
 He got a trainer and learnt swimming.
 After the completion of the training, he went to various rivers, pools, lakes and swam alone and
got rid of his fear.


 In October Douglas got an instructor for swimming.

 In three months, his fear began to fade.
 Bit by bit he shed his fears.
 The instructor engaged his feet and hands into swimming.

Getting rid of Fear

 After the instructor was done, Douglas started a self training.

 He went to the following rivers and lakes:
o Lake Wentworth (New Hampshire)
o Triggs Islands
o Stamp Act Island
o Tieton - Conrad Meadows
o Conrad Creek Trail – Meade Glacier
o Warm lake
 He conquered the fear of water for ever.

All we have to fear is fear itself – President Roosevelt

1. Why was Douglas’ mother particular that he should not go to the Yakima river? How did
she manage to keep the son away?
The Yakima River was treacherous. Drowning was common in it. By reminding him of each
drowning incident, Douglas’ mother kept him away from the Yakima River.
2. What made the YMCA pool a safe place to learn swimming?
The YMCA pool at Yakima was not so deep. At the shallow area it was only three feet deep and
at the deepest end it was nine. Moreover, the bottom of the pool was tiled the pool was tiled and
the water clear.
3. What was the author’s early childhood fear of the water? How did it affect him in the rest
of his life?
The author and his father once went the beach of California when the former was three or four.
While playing in the surf of the sea, the author was knocked down by the water and was buried
under it. His breath was gone and a deep fear developed in his mind.
4. What was the misadventure that happened while William Douglas was making his attempt
to learn swimming in the YMCA pool?
Douglas was attempting to learn swimming in the YMCA pool. He was sitting on the side of the
pool waiting for other boys to come. Unexpectedly a fat boy arrived there, and, seeing Douglas
sitting timidly, grabbed him and threw him onto the deepest part of the pool and left him to
5. ‘I was frightened, but not yet frightened out of my wits.’ What does this mean?
It was quite unexpected that Douglas was thrown into the deepest part of the YMCA Pool. The
fact that he didn’t know swimming increased the risk and danger. But Douglas was not ready to
overtaken by the sheer fear of sinking. On the contrary he strengthened his mind and got ready
to apply his wit to overcome the situation.
6. What were Douglas’ plans when he went down the water the first time?
Douglas was frightened at being hauled into the deep water but was strategic even at such a
crucial stage. While sinking, he planned to make a leap once his feet touched the tiled bottom of
the water and consequently reach the surface and swim to the side and escape.
7. Douglas presents before us the true experience of dying which is not frightening but
peaceful. Explain.
Douglas’ experience of dying in the YMCA pool taught him an untold mystery about death. He
says it is a peaceful experience to die. People generally think of death as a frightening
experience. When all efforts to escape from death, one is left with no other choice than dying, a
sort of peace wraps him. It wipes out fear, it wipes out terror. There was no more panic. I t is
quiet and peaceful. Nothing to be afraid of. One feels it nice, to be drowsy, to go to sleep, no
need to jump, too tired to jump. it is a feeling of being carried gently, to float along in space,
tender arms around us, tender arms like Mother’s.
8. Love for water could never die in Douglas. How did this statement come true to Douglas
in the years that followed?
Water was very cruel with Douglas since his childhood. Even though he had been frightened
twice, Douglas’ love for water was everlasting. After having undergone a fatal experience at the
YMCA pool Douglas didn’t give up his desire to learn swimming. He waited for his time and
overcame the fear of water and made himself a good swimmer.
9. This handicap stayed with me as the years rolled by. Which handicap does the author
refer to?
The fear of water that possessed him first on the California Beach and later at the YMCA Pool
crippled Douglas. This was an additional handicap for him other than his polio.
10. How did Douglas decide to overcome his fear of water?
After the misadventure at the YMCA Pool, Douglas found his fears for water assuming an
alarming height. He decided to overcome this fear by getting effective training from a
professional trainer.
11. But I was not finished. What was unfinished for Douglas?
At the end of his rigorous training to swim, Douglas’ trainer informed him that his job was
completed. Yet Douglas was not entirely satisfied. He had his own fears and anxieties regarding
his swimming skills. He wanted to overcome the last bit of fear from his mind.
12. What did Roosevelt mean when he said, ‘All we have to fear is fear itself?’ How did
Douglas realize this in his own life?
President Roosevelt believed that it is fear all we have to fear. People are afraid of fear. Even
when the mind wills to do certain acts, fear stops us from doing that. In the case of Douglas, too,
he never feared water. On the contrary he had great attachment to water. What he feared was
the fear for water.
13. “Only once did the terror return.” When did the terror return? How?
When William Douglas was just three or four years, his father took him to a beach in California.
While playing in the surf/waves, Douglas was knocked down by a huge wave. Though his father
laughed at it, little Douglas caught a fear of water. When he was a teenager, he tried to learn
swimming in the YMCA Pool at Yakima but got drowned in the pool, instead. He was but not
ready to accept his defeat. With the help of an instructor he learnt swimming and finally kept his
fears aside.

The title is much justified as the story revolves around the questions of understanding. In the story, the daughter
desires for an ending where the skunk is somehow made acceptable to his playmates however, the father had ended
the story where the skunk's real self remained intact. The story calls in to be looked at from several perspectives--
independence-dependence, respect-disrespect, society-individual and tradition-change are some of them. The title is
an open question put to the reader to attempt an interrogation, analyse and give a verdict. The title invokes curiosity
in the reader and attaches importance to the judgement passed as it would reflect the reader's understanding of